Faced with the chance to avenge last year’s Beanpot championship loss and to upset the defending NCAA champions, Harvard (5-14-4, 5-7-4 ECAC) came up just short, yielding to No. 15 Boston College (13-9-4, 8-7-4 Hockey East), 4-3, in the final minute of the Beanpot consolation round last night at TD Banknorth Garden.
“With the struggles we had earlier this season, this game was for pride,” said Harvard coach Ted Donato ‘91. “We just weren’t able to stay in our game plan for a full 60 minutes.”
With less than a minute left in regulation play and the score knotted at three, BC senior Benn Ferriero intercepted a clearing attempt by a Harvard blueliner and sent the puck straight down the chute to score the game-winner, sealing the win for BC at 4-3.
“One of our defenseman made a breakout pass to a man in front of the net, and I saw a BC player come and attack our player,” said sophomore goaltender Ryan Carroll, who made his first collegiate start last night. “I lost sight of the puck and when I saw it again, it was on his tape right in front of the net, and he just put it past me.”
Both last night’s consolation round and last year’s title game were tied entering the final two minutes.
Harvard remained neck-and-neck with the Eagles, and broke every tie of the game except the one that really mattered.
“Carroll gave us a chance to win the game, and unfortunately we just had a tough turnover at the end,” Donato said.
The Crimson made a strong start, establishing its forecheck in the offensive zone and putting the pressure on the Eagles’ net.
BC was whistled for back-to-back penalties, allowing Harvard over a minute of 5-on-3 play.
Co-captain Brian McCafferty and junior Alex Biega took several shots as time ran out on the double man-advantage, but couldn’t get the puck past Eagles goalie John Muse.
But as soon as the first penalty expired, sophomore Pier-Olivier Michaud redirected a bounce on another McCafferty shot to give Harvard a 1-0 lead.
The Crimson forfeited its momentum with a pair of consecutive penalties, handing BC its own chance to score with the 5-on-3 advantage.
And sure enough, Ferriero hammered a shot from the center point through the Harvard defensemen to tie the score at one.
After the first intermission, sophomore Matt McCollem carried the puck down the right boards and jumped over his defender’s skate to take a shot on Muse.
The Eagles’ netminder deflected the attempt, but Michaud finished off the rebound at 13:16 for the tiebreaker and his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
Junior Doug Rogers tried to capitalize on the Crimson’s momentum and sped down the center for a clean shot, but Muse got in front of the puck and no Harvard player was at the back door to finish it off.
The Eagles returned with another goal of their own, as the puck was knocked into the net off of BC center Brian Gibbons’ skate.
Although Donato argued that Gibbons kicked it in, the officials still counted the goal, leveling the score in the Eagles’ favor, 2-2.
“I actually thought he kicked it in when I watched it...and when I saw the replay, I was sure that he kicked it in,” Donato said. “[But] I don’t blame the officials because it was spelled out pretty clearly before that there would be no replay.”
Harvard retaliated a minute later with a shorthanded goal by senior Nick Coskren. Michaud set the play in motion by intercepting Muse’s clearing attempt and firing off a shot. Coskren challenged the BC goaltender and nailed the rebound shot to put the Crimson back on top, 3-2.
The Eagles attempted to even the score before the final intermission, outshooting the Crimson, 23-9, in the second period. With 3:45 left in the middle frame, BC made a fast breakaway shot. Carroll blocked it with his body and swiped the puck out of reach just before another Eagle swooped in for the rebound, one of 21 saves in the period.
But with 1:24 on the clock, BC’s Ben Smith finished off a wraparound pass from a teammate to light the lamp and tie the game at three.
It was anyone’s game in the final period, but the Eagles held a 10-3 shooting edge throughout the period and finished off the Crimson with Ferriero’s tie-breaker.
Harvard now faces a six-game stretch against ECAC opponents, beginning with this weekend’s home contests against Colgate and Cornell.
—Staff writer Courtney D. Skinner can be reached at email@example.com.